2019 was a galvanising year for Brooklyn-based band Crumb, reflected in the long-awaited release of their debut full-length, Jinx. A lysergic, dream-pop masterpiece that managed to both ease and disturb, with each carefully-layered part adding more to the whole. The wait was worth it, as two sold-out shows at The Dome highlighted. John Bell caught up with the four-piece after the first night of their back-to-back shows in December to reflect on the year.
I want to start looking back on 2019. It’s been a big year for you all. What have been the highlights, and what do you think was the biggest change from last year? It feels as though each year has brought a new stage to Crumb.
Yeah, it’s been a really busy and special year for us. We released our first album Jinx and had two amazing tours. And now, well, we finally have a moment to decompress from it all.
How did it feel to release your debut after a considerable time touring?
It was a huge relief to finally put the album out into the world, especially after exploring a lot of that material in a live setting.
I saw you play in London last week, and my mind truly melted. There’s a ‘lo-fi’ (for lack of a better word) or filtered aspect to your recordings that seems to dissipate when you arrive on stage, fully accentuating the live experience. Everything was so much louder and crisp and hard-hitting. I wonder if this duality to your sound has always been intentional, or has the live set up and sound developed in different ways over time?
That’s awesome to hear. It’s fun to interpret our recordings in a different way for the live thing. Our shows are always evolving but we try to put as much love and care into it as we do for the recordings. It’s important to us that the whole night is a rewarding experience for people.
How was it to have two back-to-back sold-out shows this time round?
It’s really nice to have shows back to back, this was the first tour where we’ve gotten to do that a few times. It was a rare treat to get to leave our gear on stage, explore the city, and pick up where we left off the previous night.
I took my friend who had never heard of you before, and when we came out he said there was something of Caspar the Friendly Ghost about you guys. Admittedly he was on edibles, but I knew exactly what he meant. There’s a kind of spookiness that clouds over your music in just the right way; not overpowering to make it seem like a novelty, but definitely present and glowing. I was hoping you could expound a bit on this; do you get that a lot? What do you think influences that?
Haha, well year, Jinx definitely has a spookier and darker energy than some of our other earlier stuff.
You’ve also commented that you find your own music more suitable for solitary, reflective listening. Why do you think that is?
Yeah, people have said that our music feels nostalgic and introspective but that really depends on the person. It’s always crazy to be performing on stage and see hundreds of people in the crowd having really different experiences in their own little worlds.
I say ‘lo-fi’ earlier to describe the overall sheen and texture that covers Jinx, but on a practical level there are many layers and some complex arrangements. How did you go about smoothing these complexities into the rounded and cogent way that it sounds?
Attention to the details of the song, both technically and emotionally. We mixed it with two different producers over 5-6 months.
You self-released Jinx, which was aided in no short part by your fans, who you’ve said in the past essentially helped fund the project through streaming. Did you feel much pressure because of this? Do you feel a closer interaction with your fans because of this?
The project has always been fueled financially and emotionally by the incredible support of our fans. The magic of the whole thing is that we get to decide where the band starts and ends and all the decisions in between, as opposed to a third party telling us “you have to make X amount of albums together.” It’s hard to know how we’d feel on a traditional label deal but we’re really happy with our current way of doing things.
I was also struck by the diversity of the crowd in London; people came from seemingly way more varied social groups and demographics than you’d usually see at a show of that kind, and most of them around me seemed to know you’re material back to front. Have you found that yourselves?
Definitely, and we’re really grateful for that. It was cool to see kids with their parents coming to their first show and to see and meet some older fans who can relate to our music.
What do you think or hope that 2020 will bring you?
We’re really excited to enter this next chapter of the project. Back soon.